Second World War

Oral Answers to Questions — Minister for Women – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 2nd May 2002.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Selby 11:30 am, 2nd May 2002

What steps are being taken to recognise the contribution made by women to the British war effort in the second world war.

Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry

The Government recognise and value the enormous contribution made by the women of this country during the second world war. I understand that the noble Baroness Boothroyd is patron of a committee that is looking to erect a memorial to the women of world war two. I wish the committee every success with this excellent proposal.

Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Selby

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in golden jubilee year, it would be particularly appropriate to bring the campaign for a memorial to the women of world war two—another of whose patrons, incidentally, is the Princess Royal—to a successful conclusion? Will she agree to keep a close watching brief on the efforts of the trustees to secure a central site in the heart of our capital for this memorial? The latest possible site is the Victoria embankment, close to the Ministry of Defence.

Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I have already wished that committee and its patrons every success, and I shall continue to take a close personal interest in it. It occurs to me that, coming so soon after the death of the Queen Mother—who first found her place in the affections of our country during the second world war, particularly in the east end—it would be highly appropriate to commemorate her, along with other women who made such a heroic contribution to the war effort in the first and second world wars, in a single statue. It also occurs to me that an appropriate and central place for that would be the vacant plinth in Trafalgar square.

Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Liberal Democrat, Guildford

I, too, would like to add my support for a memorial to the effort made by women during the second world war in all sorts of fields. In particular, I hope that we will recognise the contribution made by young women who stayed at home to care for families when everybody else went away, and who may have lost the chance of marriage and bringing up their own family when people came home with injuries, which meant that they slipped from being a teenager to a carer, perhaps for many years. They lost the opportunity to marry and to earn, and they are sometimes now among the poorest old people. We should remember the service provided by that group of women.

Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry

The hon. Lady makes a very important point, and I entirely agree with her about the importance of recognising and valuing the contribution that was made by those forgotten women of the war as well as that of the women who served in the Land Army, in the services and in many other ways, including in the workplace as well as in the home.